Thrive Global: Virtual healthcare allows us to enlist patients in their own treatment and rehabilitation

Thrive Global

Dr. Richard Berger of Rush University Medical Center: “Virtual healthcare allows us to enlist patients in their own treatment and rehabilitation”

By Dave Philistin, CEO of Candor

One of the consequences of the pandemic is the dramatic growth of Telehealth and Telemedicine. But how can doctors and providers best care for their patients when they are not physically in front of them? What do doctors wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office? How can Telehealth approximate and even improve upon the healthcare that traditional doctors’ visits can provide?

In this interview series, called “Telehealth Best Practices; How to Best Care for Your Patients When They Are Not Physically in Front of You” we are talking to successful Doctors, Dentists, Psychotherapists, Counselors, and other medical and wellness professionals who share lessons and stories from their experience about the best practices in Telehealth. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Richard Berger of Rush University Medical Center orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in hip and knee replacement.

Richard Berger, M.D., is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush and assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. He pioneered a minimally invasive hip and knee replacement that allows for a quicker and less painful recovery than traditional joint replacement. He also was the first in the world to perform outpatient hip and knee replacement surgery and has done over 12,000 surgeries — more than any other surgeon. Patients come from all the world to have surgery from Dr. Berger, and they include elite athletes, politicians and celebrities.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I got my start while pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at MIT. When I was a freshman, I began a research project to analyze human motion and how to make joint replacements perform like natural joints. Thus began my lifelong passion — helping people with arthritis get back their mobility and alleviate their pain. This led me to medical school, where I continued my research in joint replacements. After a residency and fellowship in joint replacement, I used my engineering degree to develop minimally invasive techniques to replace the hip or knee joints without cutting muscle, tissue or ligaments. Therefore, unlike traditional joint replacement surgery, my patients can recover and return to their lives quickly. Now, elite athletes and active people who want to continue to pursue their passions after joint replacements can do so with no limitations. In addition, my MIT engineering has helped me develop and design surgical instruments and implants used by orthopedic surgeons all over the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I am very fortunate to help over 1400 patients a year and have the pleasure of following patients after surgery and hearing their recovery stories. Many of these stories involve pursuing dreams and achieving goals that they thought were not possible with their arthritic joints.

A patient who comes to mind is a gentleman from Nashville who aspired to climb Mt. Everest. He was struggling with knee arthritis, and so he settled for a helicopter trip to Everest’s base camp. While hobbling around the base of Everest, another climber, a former patient of mine who was heading to the top, gave him what he called life-changing advice. “It looks like you have a bum knee,” he said. “Go see Dr. Richard Berger in Chicago. I did and now I am going to the top!”

After that, he came to me and I performed knee replacement, he went back to the Everest base camp. And this time without a helicopter — he hiked up with his new knee.

Again, I am very fortunate to be able to help change people’s lives for the better. From elite athletes across the country to schoolteachers around the corner, we give patients their lives back.

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